Sunday, 5 August 2018

EP: James Bentley - Happiness

James Bentley - Happiness

Info: This is James Bentley's debut acoustic live EP, 'Happiness'. It is a collection of three tracks. 'Bumblebee' is a bitter sweet song written at the very start of James Bentley's change to simpler acoustic tracks. 'Event Horizon' is a more poppy song written about the action of regretting ones decisions told through stories. Lastly 'Asphyxia' is a lyrically dark song with many themes and stories resulting in a depressing song with a build and large pay off.

Curio. The word that keeps knocking on my brain when I listen to Cavan singer-songwriter James Bentley's debut three-track EP Happiness. Much of what I hear has a rough bedroom DIY feel, this can either turn out horribly or come across as extremely beguiling and authentic, Bentley achieves the latter. I can relate to this sound and process as way back when I would have done the same, except on a cassette recorder which sounded appalling! 

'Bumblebee' has all of the 'homemade' trademarks, from the very sparse acoustic rhythm and lonely vocal, minor imperfections increase the likeability, without them it would seem forced and contrived in some way, and we also get an early glimpse at a markedly individual voice.

Second track 'Event Horizon' is a heart-felt acousti-pop offering, Bentley switching from tonal to high vocals, that at times sound like they could break under the strain, yet don't. It's a bit hypnotic and pulls you away from the present. What brings Happiness out of 'just another bedroom project' to somewhere special is final track 'Asphyxia', when I first listened to the EP at the start of the summer interest was piqued by the overall flavour of the songs, but this track, well, stopped me in my tracks.

The lines; "Cold blue eyes // Glassy as the fog above us // Cold blue eyes // They don't realise what we're hiding // Cold blue eyes // Glassy like the water below us // Cold blue eyes // They don't realise bodies we're finding" and the guitar that accompanies them have been ear-wormed deep in my brain for well over a month. This track encompasses the best of Bentley's talent and shows the potential to where it can lead. It unfolds quite magically, once you've listened to it from start to finish, swing right back to the beginning of the track to fully appreciate the outpouring.  

It also shows he is not just a chord man, with dreamy picking half-way through, and I love that little sequence at 3:15 in the song too. Then at 3:50 we have take-off and I start imagining an entirely different James Bentley to the one that opened up on the bare 'Bumblebee', there is a lot of wing-spreading happening in this final minute that could lead anywhere. Happiness is not going to be everybody's cup of tea, but it certainly is mine, and if there were an imaginary checklist James Bentley would tick more than enough boxes to warrant keeping on eye on in the future.

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